Private investigator Joe Cohen has been in love with his best friend and partner, Kade Bosa, for years. But Joe’s painfully aware that he’s the thing holding Kade together, and he won’t do anything to jeopardize that. Kade had a rough couple of years and hit rock bottom hard. So Joe keeps his feelings inside, and pines for Kade.
When Kade’s old boss asks the pair to look in on a criminal informant named Declan, the last thing Joe and Kade expect is to walk into the middle of a body count. And Declan has information that neither of them expect…information that could clear Kade’s name. Needing to lay low, the three of them head out of town, and Kade makes the executive decision to head to California and Joe’s family. After all, if Kade’s past is coming to get them, then Joe’s can to.
Joe left his family and their lucrative winery almost three years ago when they didn’t react well to his coming out. But now, Kade’s past is clear, and Joe sees that what he thought about his family is not exactly what happened. And the only thing left is for Kade to tell Joe that Joe is not alone in his love.
This book is classic Mary Calmes. Engaging characters, a plot that is slightly over the top at times, and two men who love each other fiercely. There’s a reason I’ve been a long time reader of this author, and this book showcases why. However, this book felt a little too familiar, and that gave me pause.
I’m going to unpack that last thing first and get it out of the way. So the friends to lovers storyline here, and the characters themselves, felt very much like some of Calmes previous books. There were very familiar elements to both aspects that essentially pulled me out of the story as I remembered other characters and other stories. That worked against the book a bit, because I had to remind myself at first to engage with Joe, Kade, and their story, and get my mind off others.
That being said, there was a lot I enjoyed about this book. There’s the sort of ridiculous plot that can only happen in a Calmes book. There’s something in the way she writes, for me, that just makes me jump in and go with it. Joe and Kade walk into a somewhat horrifying situation and it’s the man they rescue that of course has all the answers to Kade’s biggest shame. And that, in and of itself, is righted easily with a well placed call. It’s unbelievable, sure, in the frame of reality. But the author makes it work, and I was rooting for things to be resolved easily.
And then there are the characters. The chemistry between Joe and Kade is off the charts. Since this book is told only from Joe’s POV, we get to know him better than Kade. But the sheer longing in him for his best friend is beautiful. Because even more than that, he wants to take care of Kade. Needs to make sure Kade is good and whole and happy. I loved these guys together, and I love where they ended up. The romance totally made the book for me.
Populated within the pages are a lot of secondary characters, each unique and engaging. For the most part, I love that Calmes stuffed the story with lots of people that gave Joe and Kade a framework and characters to interact with. I will say that Joe’s mother…yeah, she didn’t work for me at all and felt a bit smothering. She was supposed to be endearing, I’m sure, but she rubbed me the wrong way. Personal preference here, as I’m sure a lot of other readers will adore her.
So I definitely liked this book. The characters, in particular, made it work for me once I got past the familiar feeling and I’m always willing to run with an over-the-top plot if the author makes me believe it. If you’re a fan of Mary Calmes, then I definitely suggest you check this one out. And if you’ve been looking to give her a try, this might be a good place to start.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.